Interview: Tom McKay on ‘Becoming Henry’ in Kingdom Come Deliverance

May 20, 2024 by No Comments


On April 18, Warhorse Studios took the wraps off Kingdom Come: Deliverance II in the most epic way possible. Equal parts exploratory and regal with a stunning reveal trailer and a lengthy showcase, ‘KCDII’ has been unveiled in full, filling fans worldwide with immense anticipation and excitement. It’s a direct follow-up to 2018’s Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and it’s been in development for a while.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Tom McKayThe instantly recognizable actor and white-hot talent behind Henry of Scholtz played the lead role in both Kingdom Come: Deliverance and the sequel, which is due out later this year.

This is what I named ‘Becoming Henry’.


On the Road to Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an amazing open-world game rooted in reality. Everything from period-accurate combat mechanics to survival elements has an attention to detail that makes the game challenging. It is also set in a real-world location painstakingly researched by what was once a very small team – Warhorse Studios.

I learned that the studio has expanded massively since the first game and is now supported by PLAION. In my chat with Tom McKay, I was curious to find out how he approached the role in the first place, given that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was the first (and still only) game franchise McKay worked on.

McKay:It comes through the same channels as most of your acting work, and in a way that I think is good and exciting, the worlds are blending. Historically, they’ve been very niche animals, and most TV, film and theater actors haven’t necessarily moved between gaming and vice versa, but it’s happening more and more, and a lot of smart, big names are doing it.

It was the same as any other job I would audition for, and then I went to Prague in 2016 to meet everyone and essentially do the final audition, and that was it. Then they offered me a job. No one thought at the time, certainly not me, that we would be having this conversation eight years later – but the second game was so anticipated and I think it was absolutely brilliant.

I’m biased, but I see a lot of the work the guys have done at Warhorse and it’s absolutely mindblowing. It’s not just the next level from the last game, I think it’s like fifty levels up from there.

Transformation

I’m interested to know about the ‘switch’ between Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Kingdom Come: Deliverance II. It’s a different world to what it was when the first game was put together all those years ago, and McKay confirms that he’s broken down the intricacies of playing Henry of Scholtz.

McKay: ‘The biggest technical difference is facial capture. We didn’t do live facial capture for motion capture the first time and we did it this time. We have big head cams that make you look like Stag Beetles, which are technically challenging in a way – the intimate scenes and the fight scenes are more challenging because you can’t be that close to each other. In terms of the suites and the studio – we were in a different studio but it felt very similar.

In terms of extracurricular training, there isn’t a ton. Most of us have done the basic level to get us to a good enough level, but when it becomes stunts, It will be acrobatics, which is in any other product. In terms of weapons, we have a lot of photos and we show them at various points, but the actual weapons are as fun as polystyrene. They should look like that, they look like that in every other motion capture studio, but they don’t look like the beautiful, ornate, intimidating weapons you see.

It was recently revealed that the voice acting portion of the production was completed after 500 hours of studio time. Not knowing how that would work from an acting perspective, I engaged McKay with a question about the process:

McKay: ‘The first chapter of our involvement was motion capture. We finished about two years ago, and on this occasion, it was about six or seven weeks in two big parts. They were separated by about four or five months. It’s pretty much the first brick in the wall from an acting perspective. From a development perspective, there’s a huge amount of work and a huge amount of people involved before any of us are actors. It’s the same as the first time, and it’s even more so because this game is so big. We are very late to the party in that regard.

The guys at Warhorse were very careful about everything, but especially about ‘vocal power’ as Henry had a lot of lines. Anything a player can say in any iteration of the game must be recorded, hence the huge volume of material. I had to do eight-hour sessions, whereas most actors do four-hour sessions because it’s more manageable vocally, but in terms of getting through it, we realized that’s the only way we can hit the targets and the deadlines. Just do eight hour days. We started with more vocally smooth stuff, and then if there was any serious barking or anything like that, it would be at the end of the day. And of course, the last day was just one hour of utter shouting and screaming.’

Naturally, McKay couldn’t divulge any details about the game, but he did mention that the core ‘feel’ of the product is relatively similar to the first title:

McKay: ‘I won’t talk too much about it because I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say. I understand very well from all opinions that the realistic element is key and a big part of its USP and that made it difficult but my understanding is that it was really enjoyable. My understanding is that the very realistic element, the immersive element, is still very much the heart of this game.

emancipation

Kingdom Come: Deliverance II is reported to be ‘at least twice the size’ of the first game, both in terms of available map space and the overall scope of the project. It’s an ambitious undertaking that’s far more technologically advanced than the first game, as evidenced by the stunning trailer that Warhorse Studios unveiled a little over a month ago.

McKay confirmed he didn’t play the first game because he’s ‘not a huge gamer’, but he vowed to give Kingdom Come: Deliverance II a shot:

McKay: “A lot of the crew that I know very well on a personal level now, we’ve become really good friends because you don’t get to work with a team like this for such a long time in that close-knit group in any other game. I get to see more consistently what is being implemented day in and day out by being in the office and it’s absolutely mind blowing. Yes, I will definitely play this game. As for my technical ability, playing it well is a different matter.’

It’s still unknown when Kingdom Come: Deliverance II will be released, but we’ve been given a 2024 window – so in a few months, we’ll recapture Henry of Scholitz, continuing the vast adventure that kicked off back in 2018.

If you want to stay connected with Tom McKay, you can Follow him on Instagram. Alternatively, you can check what Warhorse Studios is doing it on Twitter.




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